Bomb threats that were called in earlier this week against three synagogues in New Jersey’s Syrian Jewish enclaves of Deal and Long Branch, but no one seems to know whom to blame for them. Prosecutors claim the caller, who prompted the disruption of a 300-person wedding, had a Middle Eastern accent, but in a community filled with immigrants from Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, that hardly rules out an inside job.
Everyone, though, presumes the threats were somehow connected to the recent arrests of five rabbis and others in the community on various money-laundering, tax evasion, and organ-trafficking charges. For that, there’s no shortage of people to blame. Yesterday, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach weighed in with a rather weak reproach of the rabbis involved, accusing them of abusing their moral authority and, potentially, the goodwill of charitable donors for their own profit; he cites Mark Charendoff, head of the Jewish Funders Network, to argue “there is a special place in hell reserved for these individuals.” (Never mind that Judaism really doesn’t have a hell, per se.)
And today, former New York mayor Ed Koch—apparently recovered from his own recent brush with the afterlife—praised Solomon Dwek, the mole who exposed the shenanigans in his own community to avoid prosecution for his own check-kiting scam. Koch also put out a clarion call to the New York and New Jersey boards of rabbis to instead denounce any religious leaders—namely, Dwek’s father, Isaac, rabbi of the Deal synagogue—who seek to blame the mosers for the mess. “It would be unacceptable for a Christian not to cooperate with the police in bringing a Christian who committed a criminal act to justice,” Koch declared in his Jerusalem Post blog. “The same rule of law applies to Jews.”
Long Branch, Deal Synagogue Threats Still Under Probe [Asbury Park Press]
When Rabbis Fail Their Communities [Jewish Journal]
Are We Our Brothers’ Keeper? [JPost]
Related: Crisis of Faith [Tablet]